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Beer Review:
Murphy's Irish Red
Cork, Ireland (via Holland)
By: George Zhen

July 12, 2005

So, we consider ourselves to be fairly knowledgeable people. Not that we presume to know everything there is to know in this world, much less everything there is to know about beer. However, when it came to deciding on a somewhat off-the-beaten-path beer to represent our visit to Ireland, we figured that Murphy's Irish Red would be a fair choice. It's not a well-known brew in America, at least we hadn't seen it ever advertised on the television or anything like that. Guinness or Harp was a bit too commercial, Smithwick's or O'Hara's couldn't be found, and given the option, Murphy's seemed to suit our needs.

Imagine our surprise when we looked closer at the can and saw the words "product of Holland" written right there where anyone with a modicum of vision could read it. Embarrassing. Here we are, intrepid travelers of the virtual world, purveyors of finely brewed beverages, and we can't even pick the right damn beer!! How sad. Nonetheless, we were committed and thus this beer shall be reviewed with our apologies to the fine people of Ireland who we know to have fine brewing tastes, none of which will be represented in this review.

Murphy's Red is a product of the Heineken Brewing consortium, who are marketing this beer as a traditional Irish brew. It comes in a can, which is a first for our little project. For fairness, we sampled it first in a beer snifter-type glass, then a standard pub pint glass, then finally from the can itself. Unfortunately for us, none of these methods did anything to improve the experience.

Murphy's pours as a typical pedestrian brew, nothing spectacular about the head or aroma. The color is a light red that one could read through. Again, nothing distinct or impressionable about Murphy's performance within the pint glass, either.

As for taste and flavor, err, well in plain terms it's sucks. It has the burnt bitterness that curses some reds, but there is no body, fullness or other pleasurable dynamics to speak of. I found myself making "sour face" more than a few times as a took small sips. When I moved to the can, I figured that this was the intended vessel of consumption. Perhaps the added flavor of the aluminum would mix pleasantly with the hops and improve things. After all it was beer #3 at that point, and the tastebuds should be sufficiently dulled into complacency. No such luck, In fact, it was worse.

Effects weren't too bad from Murphy's 5% ABV. In fact, it was making up for the bad taste to a degree. But, like some other cheaper brews, the payoff was complicated by the hangover on the horizon, which one could feel coming before the night was even over. Not a good way to make a lasting impression.

In fairness, Murphy's Red comes on the heels of one of the finer beers we've sampled, The Red MacGregor, which to this point is one of the best red beers I've ever had. The comparisons are unfair and not really relevant. I would take one Red Mac over a case of Murphy's, if that is a testament. After all, Murphy's is about as unique and characteristic as it's name.

Beer Tasting Scorecard
Murphy's Irish Red
Attribute Score
Head 2
Color 2
Taste 1
Flavor 1
Effect 2
Overall Score 1.6

For more information on Murphy's Irish Red, visit their website at

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